Millennials have surpassed baby boomers to become the largest age group in the United States. Pew Research Center anticipates the group will continue growing as a percentage of the overall labor force and will peak in 2036 at 76.2 million.
Don’t make the mistake of imagining millennials are too young to impact your practice: this generation was born between 1981 and 1996, meaning the oldest millennials are in their mid-30s now. This age group will eventually become the majority of your client base if it hasn’t already. That’s why attorneys need to understand millennials’ preferences, habits, and expectations.
ARAG’s latest research focuses on millennial preferences when it comes to attorneys and legal services—and some of the results are surprising. Four major takeaways from the study might help you gain more clients from this powerful generation.
1. Millennials prefer to work with attorneys face-to-face.
Millennials tend to be more technologically adept than older generations, but when asked how they would prefer to work with an attorney on a legal issue, the majority chose face-to-face in an office.
Like older generations, millennials see working with an attorney as a serious issue that requires in-person meetings. Keep in mind that even though in-person is their top preference, millennials are still more open to other communication methods than other generations. For example, 42% of millennials prefer communicating with attorneys via email, compared to only 27% of older generations. They’re also more open to working with you via text message, online chat, or video chat—which leads to the second key takeaway from the study.
2. Millennials expect you to be available through a wide variety of communication channels.
When asked how they would expect an attorney to communicate with them, millennials had higher expectations for non-traditional forms of communicating than other generations. One in three millennials expects text messages from their attorney, while one in four expects secure online messaging portals.
Notice that the data doesn’t appear to show that millennials expect these forms of communication to replace more traditional methods like in person, phone, and email; they simply have higher expectations that other options will be used as well.
3. Millennials want to know what they’re getting for their money.
Did you know millennials save more money than any other generation and are more focused on budgeting? The heightened focus on finances is most likely because millennials came of age during a time of rising education costs, growing debt, and increasing economic uncertainty.
Before spending money on your services, millennials will want to know exactly what is included. They need to see the value an attorney can provide them and that their investment (of time and money) will pay off. How do attorneys provide this? Through clear communication of fees and service expectations. When in doubt, overcommunicate about the different scenarios and possibilities. The fewer surprises for your clients, the better for your working relationship. Obviously, in some situations, you won’t know what is going to happen, but try to draw as clear a roadmap as possible for them, pointing out what usually happens.
4. Millennials may need help identifying a need for your services beyond serious legal issues.
Younger generations seem to be more keyed to the prevalence of legal issues people can experience throughout their lives. Of the millennials surveyed by ARAG, 35% believe they’ll likely experience a legal issue in the next year, while only 26% of other generations see a legal problem on the horizon.
However, when asked specifically about what services they’d need to use an attorney for, millennials tended to see the value for only more serious issues. The top eight issues they believe most likely require an attorney are:
- Felony charge
- Child support, custody or visitation issues
- Juvenile legal matter
- Disputed will
- Prenuptial agreement
- Immigration or naturalization issue
- Criminal misdemeanor charge
Note that creating wills and trusts didn’t make the list. Attorneys who practice this area of law and other areas that didn’t make the list might want to consider offering educational materials and partnering with local organizations to connect with potential clients and show them the benefits of using an attorney.
By understanding millennials’ expectations and preferences when it comes to working with attorneys, you’re one step closer to understanding a segment of your business that is only going to grow in the next few decades.
About the Author
Jean Clauson serves as legal industry advocate at ARAG, an international legal insurance provider, fostering relationships with state and local bar associations as well as incubators. Contact her on Twitter @ClausonJe.